Ford Focus ST (2012-2018) Review
The Ford Focus ST is a practical, sporty hatchback with impressive performance and a fun drive
Strengths & weaknesses
- Enjoyable to drive
- Practical five-door format
- Great value for money
- Not as fast as rivals like the Seat Leon Cupra
- Boot smaller than several rivals
- Front wheels spin easily under hard acceleration
The Ford Focus ST is a faster version of the Ford Focus family hatchback. It comes in either a five-door hatchback or five-door estate bodystyle, with a choice of a 2.0-litre turbocharged 'EcoBoost' petrol engine and a 2.0-litre 'TDCi' diesel engine.
The regular Ford Focus is already one of the best hatchbacks when it comes to the driving experience, and the ST builds on this with more power, more direct steering and stiffer suspension that help to provide a sportier feel around corners.
These extras all contribute to a more enjoyable driving experience. To get the most out of the Focus ST, it’s best to go for the EcoBoost petrol engine, as it produces 250hp and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. If you’re more concerned about running costs, though, the diesel version is able to return more than 65mpg and costs just £20 a year to tax for some versions, but it still has 185hp and provides a fun drive - it’s certainly more fun than the equivalent Volkswagen Golf GTI and GTD, if not as involving as a Seat Leon Cupra.
Style-wise, the Focus ST has plenty of features to differentiate it from the standard Focus. It has a sporty-looking bodykit, a wide, open front grille, roof spoiler and larger alloy wheels. It also features twin-exhausts in the centre of the car at the rear end.
It’s a similarly sporty story inside, too, with heavily-bolstered sports seats, plenty of red stitching and ST badges on the steering wheel and in the instrument cluster. The Focus ST benefits from being a five-door hatchback, so that means it’s just as practical as any other regular Focus hatchback or estate, although the hatchback’s boot is a little on the small side compared to a number of its rivals.
There are three easy-to-understand trim levels - ST, ST-2 and ST-3 - plus the Focus has a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating, which is reassuring. Remember, though that since it was tested way back in 2012, this version faced a far less challenging crash test. This means that cars that received a five-star rating more recently will have had to meet higher standards to get the same top rating.
If you want an even faster version, a company called Mountune can upgrade the Focus ST to produce 276hp and reduce the 0-62mph time to 5.7 seconds. It’s a very entertaining car to drive in this form, plus the tuning upgrade doesn’t affect the car’s warranty.
|Warranty||3 years / 60,000 miles|
|Boot size||316 litres|
|Tax (min to max)||£0 to £205 per year|
Best Ford Focus ST for...
Best for Economy – Ford Focus ST 2.0 TDCi
The 182hp Focus ST TDCi is claimed to return up to 67mpg, and costs just £20 a year to tax, compared to the petrol’s £180 annual bill. It’s still quick and enjoyable to drive, but you won’t enjoy revving it as much as the petrol. You’ll enjoy the less frequent trips to the petrol station, though.
Best for Families – Ford Focus ST-2 Estate 2.0 TDCi
Ford hasn’t compromised on practicality in the pursuit of sportiness, so families can get a spacious estate version with a 476-litre boot. It’s just as fun to drive and cheap to run as the hatchback, but with added practicality for all of the family. ST-2 trim adds great features like a heated front windscreen for frosty mornings, auto lights and wipers and dual-zone climate control.
Best for Performance – Ford Focus ST-3 2.0 EcoBoost
The 2.0-litre EcoBoost is the best option for having the most fun. It’s got 250hp and will go from 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds (1.6 seconds faster than the diesel), plus it’s more enjoyable to rev thanks to a sportier-sounding engine and exhaust note.
One to Avoid – Ford Focus ST-3 2.0 TDCi PowerShift
This version isn’t a bad version of the Focus ST, but it’s the one to avoid purely because of price. At just under £28,000, it’s a lot of money for a Ford Focus, plus the ST is best enjoyed fitted with the six-speed manual, rather than the PowerShift automatic gearbox that does it for you.
- June 2014 Ford updates whole Focus range, including the ST with tweaked looks and an improved interior, including new SYNC 2 touchscreen system to control the audio, climate control, sat-nav (where fitted) and general car settings.
Understanding Ford Focus ST names
Trim level ST-2
ST, ST-2, ST-3
Engine 2.0 TDCi
2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol or 2.0 TDCi diesel
Ford Focus ST Engines
2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol or 2.0 TDCi diesel
The first thing to note about the two engine options is that they both cost exactly the same to buy when new - so there’s no compromise when it comes to initial purchase price - your decision will come down to personal preference and what kind of running costs you’re after.
The 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine is turbocharged, and produces 247bhp. It produces a great sound when you put your foot down, making it feel very well suited to a car with performance at its core. However, it does settle down when you’re just cruising along, making it a great all-rounder. It’ll go from 0-62mph in an impressive 6.5 seconds, and onto a top speed of 154mph. There can be a little bit of a delay when you put your foot down because of the turbocharger, but if you leave it in a lower gear, you can pull away very quickly.
Go for the diesel engine and there’s less power than the petrol - 182bhp - but it still has plenty of power to get you going. It’s not as fast to 62mph, but when you want to overtake quickly, the ST diesel is very impressive. It uses a sound synthesiser which pumps artificial engine noise into the interior. It sounds like a bit of a gimmick, but it’s surprisingly effective at making the Focus ST TDCi seem sportier.
0 - 62mph
Ford Focus ST Trims
ST, ST-2 & ST-3
The Focus ST sits at the top of the Focus range, so all models come very well equipped anyway, but there are three trims to choose from if you want extras. The regular Focus ST comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, digital radio, Ford’s SYNC 2 touchscreen media display, climate control and general settings, as well as Ford’s MyKey system. This allows you to set up different settings for the car’s speed and audio volume depending on who’s driving.
For about £1,500 more, the Focus ST-2 adds automatic headlights and wipers, part leather Recaro sports seats and dual-zone climate control. Ford’s ‘Quickclear’ heated front windscreen is standard, too, which makes de-icing the car in winter incredibly quick and easy.
Ford Focus ST Reliability and warranty
The Ford Focus ST should prove a reliable car to run, if not as reliable as rivals like the SEAT Leon Cupra. In the 2015 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, it came in 65th place out of 200 cars, an improvement from 133rd in 2014. All of the components used in the Focus ST are found elsewhere in the Ford range, too. The engines are also found in cars like the Mondeo and S-Max people carrier, while everything is based on the regular Focus.
Ford as a brand had a less than impressive showing, though, placing 25th out of 33 manufacturers.
Used Ford Focus ST
Fords tend to lose value quite quickly, so it’s likely you’ll be able to find yourself a used example for much less than you would have paid for a brand new one. If you’re looking to buy a car on finance, then rates will be less favourable for a used model than a new one, so it’s worth checking this before you buy, and weigh up the costs in comparison with each other.
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